I wanted to start this post by using the word success story but that makes this too grand because success is relative and in the eye of the beholder so instead I’m going to talk about growth because I believe that is the goal of not just people on the autism spectrum but every person that has lived. That being said, and this has been an echoing theme for the past year or so on my blog, I have to say there are many people in the lives of those on the spectrum that will do amazing things and yet they may never see the growth or the person that they will become. Parents though, they will see and I got to share an amazing experience with my dad just a few days ago.
For the USAC Battle at the Brickyard all the drivers got to do a lap around the 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As excited as the kids were to take to the most famous racetrack in the world I was probably equally as excited to climb back up into the stand I was in just less than two months ago when I got to flag a day of Indy 500 practice. That was a crowning achievement in my life two months ago but that day I was alone. The support I received from all my teachers and family wasn’t really shared that day unless one happened to be watching the live stream of practice that day and even then you had to have known about it via social media. My dad was watching but he wasn’t there, however two days ago he was there and the experience in the stand would be shared.
We’d been up there before back in 2012 when I did a video blog from up there the day before the Indy 500 when I thanked Duane Sweeney for planting some major seeds that has helped me become who I am. On that day it was neat being in the stand with my dad but it wasn’t really, say, special as it would be like walking onto a football field before the Super Bowl without having any true connection to it. Now though, two days ago, I had been a part of the experience of the stand and as we climbed up the ladder I had to fight back tears. Yes, I’ll admit it, I did because I was getting to share this most sacred spot of my life with the person that has been the biggest support in my life. True, it wasn’t on a day where Indycars would be going 230+mph under the stand (although there would be over 230 cars) but the space was the same and Indy has an aura to it where days and events are timeless.
The sun reflecting off the pagoda was much like the end of practice back in May and I pointed out all the positions to my dad where timing and scoring is located and other tidbits of info. After that I tried not to talk all that much because I wanted to just soak in these moments with my dad. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back in that stand and I most certainly don’t know if my dad will ever be up there again with me so this was a true culmination of every bit of work, drama, heartache, hardship, high, and low that saw me get to that point.
Could a person call this the happy ending of a success story? Perhaps, but I don’t want it to be seen that way because a success story washes over the true work that takes place incrementally because it isn’t about a sudden life changing win like winning the lottery. Instead, it is a bunch of small growths that leads to the next bit of growth that might see a giant leap of growth followed up by more small growths and some people, like parents, are going to have a major hand in it while there will be a multitude of supporting cast members but it’s a process that needs to work in tandem to see the fullest amount of human potential realized.
The cars went around and did their lap and I did the longest double checkered in perhaps history at about 10 minutes but when it was over I lingered for a few seconds longer than one would expect, but for myself this was a silent celebration with my dad. He’ll know now what it means after reading this, but for other success, I mean growth stories out there I assure you there’s a cast of people that helped. You’ve read my story but for the teachers that are reading this, and paras, and to you the parents I hope you realize things are a process, there is hope (I used to tell my dad every day that there, “no hope”) and growth can and will happen and is a wonderful thing that helps pave the path towards whatever one’s definition is of a success story.